With only two trips scheduled in December the first was a clash between Ayr United and Dunfermline at Somerset Park. Dunfermline were in the middle of an impressive eight game unbeaten run whilst the hosts were languishing with Airdrie at the foot of the first division. Kieran and I made the short journey down the M77 and picked up Jamie along with our guest Groundhopper for the day, Emma.
Somerset Park is a remarkable ramshackle of a ground, a relic which doesn't seem to have undergone any renovation since their glory days of the early 1970s. Through the overgrown grass, boarded up turnstiles and up the concrete steps the ground is dominated by three banks of terracing and a main stand. With the moss on the stand's roof and terracing in need of a lick of paint it certainly has an antiquated feel yet when filled with nearly 2,000 vociferous punters where else would you rather be on a Saturday?
The supposed 'best pie in Ayr' perhaps did not fully live up to its billing but it was pleasantly tasty if a little cool and we continued our fine run with another meaty Bovril. As a St Mirren supporter Jamie was rather excited to see his former hero Junior Mendes in the Ayr squad although he had to contend himself with a place on the bench. The game began in a scrappy manner with both sides struggling to establish any cohesion in their passing or create worthwhile openings and in truth the first half was probably the worst we've seen so far, the only chance falling to Pars striker Graham Bayne who miss-hit his shot. Jamie, who was on call for his work, may well have been wishing he had been called out on an emergency but he wasn't so lucky.
Thankfully Ayr United came out with much more pace and purpose in the second half, their midfield began to push further forward and the away side looked rather vulnerable at the back. Seven minutes in Ryan Stevenson drilled home following an excellent passing move from the 'Honest Men' and suddenly the home team had a lead to protect. The game really opened up after that with Dunfermline piling the pressure on to get an equaliser - Ayr keeper Craig Samson superbly parried a Steven McDougall shot but Ayr United could well have doubled their lead but were let down in the final third.
To Jamie's delight Junior Mendes made a cameo appearance with a couple of minutes left on the clock as Ayr managed to run down time and see out the game for a vital win. As the home fans lapped up a rare league victory it seemed like this 3 points may well just be papering over the cracks of another difficult season for the Ayrshire men but with their hearty home support behind them at their strangely appealing dilapidated ground they may well just survive in this their Centenary season.
Journey - 5
Pie - 7
Bovril - 8
Ground - 7
Game - 5